Average non-mortgage debt in Canada is rising at a relatively modest rate, according to a study by TransUnion. Low delinquency rates indicate that Canadians so far have been able to handle the increase.

The average consumer debt load, minus mortgages, increased $225 to $27,355 in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. The increase of 0.83% was consistent with the rise experienced in the second quarter, after a fall of 2% in the first quarter. On a year-over-year basis, total debt fell 2.19% from $26,770 at the end of the third quarter in 2012.

Two of the country’s largest cities - Toronto and Vancouver - both experienced quarterly and yearly declines in average consumer total debt. Montreal, the country’s second-largest city by population, saw small rises on both a quarterly and yearly basis, while Edmonton was the only major city to experience a rise in debt greater than the national average.

TransUnion reports delinquency rates remain low across all credit products, from credit cards to auto loans.

“Credit card delinquencies saw the biggest decline on a percentage basis in the last year, which is a positive as we embark on the final three months of the year when credit card usage tends to pick up," said Thomas Higgins, TransUnion’s vice-president of analytics and decision services. “The relatively low delinquency levels observed in the third quarter are a positive sign that Canadian consumers are managing their greater debt loads."

The study further showed that the increase in average debt varied throughout Canada, with provinces experiencing year-over-year changes from a low of minus 0.4% in British Columbia to a high of 15.49% in Saskatchewan. Elsewhere, consumer debt levels fell 0.03% in Ontario, while rising 2.72% in Quebec and 7.46% in Alberta. The report did not give figures for other provinces.

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